Stetina to lead BMC in California

For the first time since 2010, Peter Stetina returns to the Tour of California and the 26-year-old does so as the leader of BMC Racing Team.

Last year BMC's Tejay van Garderen won the overall but with his focus on the Tour de France this year, Stetina has taken his teammates place as the protected rider for the race.

"I have never actually been in a protected role like this, so this will be a new opportunity that I have been chomping at the bit for and one that I am excited for," Stetina said. "Stepping into a leadership role is a completely different responsibility. There is an added pressure. I hope I can thrive under it and I am excited to take it head-on."

The eight-day race begins on Sunday in Sacramento with a pair of mountain-top finishes at Mount Diablo State Park (Stage 3) and Mountain High (Stage 6)sure to decide the overall winner of the 2014 event.  A 20.1km time trial around Folsom will test the GC men and it is the race against the clock that Stetina is wary of.

"I think the time trial is extremely important. Mount Diablo is not very steep until the very final. So I think there are going to be bigger time gaps for the time trial than on Diablo.

"And then Mountain High is a hard climb. You definitely have to have a good time trial to contend for the overall," said Stetina who joined the team having spent several season with Garmin.

Joining Stetina for the race is reigning Norwegian national road champion Thor Hushovd, who has won a stage at the race in 2009,  Dubai Tour winner and past US national time trial champion Taylor Phinney, Ronde van Vlaanderen runner-up Greg Van Avermaet and the current Swiss national road champion Michael Schär.

The team will also be hoping to win a few stages and BMC Sport Director Max Sciandri for the race expects a good showing from the nine riders.

"We have a very balanced and motivated team," Sciandri said. "The guys will be working hard around Peter and we have Taylor there for the time trial, plus everyone will be stage hunting in a way."

BMC Racing Team for the Tour of California: Thor Hushovd, Martin Kohler, Amaël Moinard, Taylor Phinney, Michael Schär, Peter Stetina, Greg Van Avermaet and Larry Warbasse.

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